This is my favorite sabbat and my favorite time of year! Usually by now, it’s still hot during the day, but the nights have that tiny hint of coolness in the air. We can almost be convinced that the weather is breaking and there will be some relief from the incessant heat. And the Summer veggies are finishing up their season, but we still have all the Autumn veggies and fruits to look forward to. There’s a richness about everything now, the foods, the colors, the feeling of harvest and family, and that will carry us through to Yule.
In the agricultural world, farmers are looking forward to some rest and relaxation after a long Summer and Spring of hard work. In the non-agricultural world, we’re filled with gratitude for the abundance we’ve been given. In fact, a lot of people equate Mabon with Pagan Thanksgiving, and I do too. This is a great time to celebrate a successful harvest with a feast for friends and family. The evenings are great for long, after-dinner strolls and feeling the changes coming in the air.
Let’s look at some ideas for an amazing Mabon altar!
Colors (for altar cloths, flowers, candles, and decorations)
The colors of Autumnal fruits are appropriate this time of year, so reds and purples and greens will work. Also, we’re starting to look forward to leaves changing (though here in Georgia, we still have a month or more before that happens), so the bright oranges, browns, golds, and reds of Autumn foliage is appropriate. You may also want to sneak in some darker colors, like browns or black to symbolize that we’re turning from the light half of the year to the dark half. While this holiday is about joy and plenty, there’s a hint of death in the air that will bring us to Samhain.
Obviously, heavy fruit scents like apple, grape, and pomegranate are perfect for now. Also, deeper earthy scents that remind us of the darker months coming up and the earth we depend on- like oak moss or patchouli.
For incense, I enjoy frankincense and myrrh, as they have often represented wealth and abundance. This holiday is all about being filled with gratitude for the riches we’ve been given!
Apples and grapes are being harvested around now, and these are great things to add to your Mabon altar. This is the traditional time of year for making wine and cider as well as canning, and symbols of those activities are also appropriate.
Pomegranates are especially important now if you follow any Greek traditions, as Persephone is descending to the underworld now. She was originally tricked into returning there every year by being fed pomegranate seeds, which tied her to the underworld.
Gourds are starting to come ripe, and there are pumpkins here and there as well. Use them! Pumpkins aren’t just for Samhain.
Vines. You can use grape vines (or any other vine, really) to create wreaths and garlands for decorations.
Cornucopia. As a symbol of abundance and plenty, the cornucopia is a great symbol for Pagan Thanksgiving!
Seed pods. A lot of plants are setting seed now, and it’s a great time to collect those seeds and keep them on the altar to bless them. Then you can plant the blessed seeds next Spring for some extra magickal oomph.
Autumn leaves. As I mentioned, we have a while before the leaves really start to change in Georgia, but this is still the mark of the beginning of Autumn, and leaves are a great symbol of that.
Representations of any animals we’re seeing a lot around this time of year.
I’ll be adding lots more as I pick things up in nature and in the stores. I’ll be including anything that reminds me of fruit and harvest and Persephone and plenty. If you have any ideas that I missed, please let me know in the comments! Blessed be!
(For a video tour of my altar, look here!)